Anna Roberston speaks with Ian Sandercoe, successful singer/songwriter/actor who calls Crowdy Head home. Ian talks about music, mental illness and his commitment to supporting those who need a hand …
Ian Sandercoe doesn’t just pop quietly into the FOCUS office for a bit of a chat about his latest gig as a supporter of the local branch of Carer Assist – a support service for people who care for someone with a mental illness. I should have known better. Ian comes in and owns the office – in the best possible way. It’s just what he does. So an hour later, after many laughs, some serious talk and the ultimate in silly photo shoots, my editor, Amy, kicks out Mr Entertainment, so we can all get back to work.
This highly successful singer/songwriter/actor decided to call Crowdy Head home about three years ago, after deciding it was time to settle in one place while his boys were at school. He’s quick to point out that it’s been a fantastic move for him, the kids and wife, Anna.
“This area has treated us really well. It’s given our family things I don’t think we could have had if we were living somewhere else.” It’s a sense of escape and peace, stability and the community.
All these things also work well for creative minds like Ian Sandercoe’s. I have a dig at him that he’s washed his hair in preparation for having his photo taken by Amy. Ian certainly enjoys being a stroll away from the surf, and his ocean-crisped rocker’s locks often reflect this fact. He’s as laid back about the ribbing as he is about pretty much everything.
Ian began performing at age five, and it’s no wonder. With a mother whose own London-trained Classical background nurtured and honed his naturally outstanding vocal abilities and a father whose concert productions, in which Ian performed, included iconic locations such as the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Entertainment Centre and the Myer Music Bowl, it was a natural environment that became a passion and his career. He went on to join his first band and began songwriting as a teenager. Since then, apart from ‘getting a real job’ to appease traditional parental concerns and completing a plumbing apprenticeship back in the day, the music/entertainment industry has been Ian’s life and livelihood.
His extensive bio is impressively linked to some of Australia’s most well known and respected names in the music and entertainment industry. When Ian was working with a cover band in Newcastle over 25 years ago, he met and began songwriting for a young Ralph Carr. (Carr’s Melbourne management agency currently handles Vanessa Amorosi, Richard Wilkins and Jon Stevens, among others.) This relationship produced the band Joshua Brave, with Ian as lead singer. Joshua Brave enjoyed a massive East Coast live following and chart success at the time.
Before moving to the beautiful Manning’s coastal region, as well as his individual pursuits, Ian also worked on various collaborative projects with industry friends and colleagues. These have included appearing in choreographer/director Dein Perry’s (Tap Dogs, Hot Shoe Shuffle) Australian feature film Bootmen, working closely on several different ventures with Darren Disney (Brent Street Performing Arts Studios), co-writing with Robert Pardé on Ian’s Earth Day Album on a few of the songs (Pardé is probably best known as the writer of Vanessa Amorosi’s No.1 hit single, Shine), as well as touring. Ian is always working on something, often several things at once.
As someone who’s known Ian for a short time, one of the things that strikes me most isn’t his laconic humour, bursts of boyish good-natured sledging, or strong belief that being a working musician is a real and worthy occupation. It’s his deep loyalty to family and friends, dedication to doing something for others, commitment to supporting those who need a hand and speaking up for those without a voice. So it was no surprise that when Ian had some experience within his extended family of mental illness and the impact it could have on the carers of the sufferer, he decided to become a supporter for the local carer support service, Carer Assist. It’s a NSW Health Department initiative that works locally from the Tenison Woods Centre in Taree and provides information about mental illness, services and the mental health system to people who look after a friend or relative with a mental illness. It’s an educative platform to ‘empower carers’, so that they are able to maintain their own needs within the caring role.
Along with Carer Assist, Ian encourages people who care for someone with a mental illness to undertake the next Well Ways Education Program. These programs are run over an eight-week period for three hours a week. They provide a way for carers to come together and be educated about methods to improve their communication and problem solving skills within the complex nature of the carer role. Ian emphasises that these courses are totally free. He mentions that there are also regular Mental Health presentations at libraries in the area. The next one is on ‘Deliberate Self Harm’ on August 17 at Harrington Library 11am – noon. The speaker is Clinical Nurse Specialist, Lois Ross, who works for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. (Bookings are essential for this event, so call 6592 5390). The easiest way to get more information on Carer Assist is to contact Catherine on 6551 4333.
Ian was recently asked to perform his song Breathe at a Mental Health awareness function at Gladesville Hospital in Sydney. “It was difficult. It surprised me. I choked up toward the end … but I got through it,” he smiles. I’m happy to do whatever I can.”
Ian is currently fine-tuning tracks for his latest album, finishing a documentary about new talent breaking into the Australian music industry (including local artists), gigging in Newcastle and the Mid North Coast, and enjoying the view at Crowdy Head with his family.